What To Do When You Suspect The Custodial Parent Of Child Support Fraud

A lot of what is written about child support fraud focuses on the ways paying parents avoid their financial responsibilities. However, some custodial parents also lie and commit other nefarious acts to get more money from co-parents than they're entitled to. If you think your ex has committed child support fraud, here's what you need to do.

Amass as Much Evidence as Possible

Before the family court will take any action against the custodial parent, you must show how the person committed fraud, when it occurred, and what the person did. It's one thing to suspect your ex is committing fraud and quite another to prove wrongdoing, however. Thus, you need to get clear on how the co-parent is actually defrauding you and gather as much evidence as you can to support your position.

For example, a common way custodial parents commit child support fraud is by failing to support all their income. Some will tell the court they make less than they actually do, while others won't report money they receive from other sources (e.g., and inheritance or a second job). In this case, you'll have to get evidence of your ex's actual income (e.g., bank statements and tax returns) to prove to the court the person is making more than he or she claims.

Each situation is different, so it may be a good idea to consult with an attorney about your specific circumstances. The lawyer can provide you with ideas and advice on the best way to get the information you need to prevail in court.

Calculate Your Losses

The second thing you need to do is calculate how much money the co-parent has unfairly taken from you. Although child support fraud is a crime, you may have to sue the custodial parent in civil court to get your money back. For that, you'll need to know how much money you're owed.

Figuring out your loss will depend on how the co-parent took the money. If the custodial parent was awarded a higher amount due to his or her deception, you'll need to calculate what the person should've been paid and subtract that from what they did get to determine your losses. For instance, say the person was awarded $500 per month but should've only gotten $300. Your loss is $200 per month for however long the deception lasted.

On the other hand, if the custodial parent continued receiving child support when he or she was no longer eligible, then your losses would be the amount of the child support multiplied by the number of months from the date of ineligibility he or she received it.

For instance, say your divorce decree states you will only pay child support beyond the statutory limit for as long as your child is enrolled in college. They drop out after the first year, but your ex fails to tell you or the court and continues collecting payments for an additional two years. You could only sue to recover the amount paid for those two years when your kid wasn't enrolled in university.

Be aware, though, that some states have special rules requiring parents pay a certain amount of child support. Thus, even if your ex got more than he or she was due, you may not be able to recover that money if the total amount you paid was less than the minimum set by the state. Research the relevant laws in your area before spending the time and money taking the co-parent to court.

Contact the Authorities and Your Attorney

If the state's child support agency is involved in your dealings with the custodial parent (e.g., they're funneling payments from you to the co-parent) contact them with your concerns. They'll typically launch an investigation, and you can use any information they gather in court to support your case.

You should also contact a family law attorney as soon as possible as well. In addition to getting you money back, you may be able to get the child support payments reduced. However, you'll need to file the appropriate paperwork with the court quickly to make that happen.

For help with this or other child support issues, contact a local attorney at a law firm like the Stoddard Law Firm.